France's minister for European affairs came out as gay this week, then announced he would travel to Poland to confront local LGBT-free zones directly. Clément Beaune made the revelations to the French gay magazine Têtu which was excerpted by Politico.eu. Beaune had been promoted to his position in July by French President Emmanuel Macron, and he made the revelation in part to inspire others that one’s sexuality need not be a hindrance to advancement.
“I am gay, and I have no problem saying it,” Beaune said, adding his sexuality was “not an obstacle” to becoming minister.
Nearly a third of towns in Poland have declared themselves LGBT-free zones. Polish courts annulled two of the declarations earlier this year, but the decisions were isolated. The European Union announced earlier this year they were suspending funds for any municipality that declared itself an LGBT-free zone, but the government of Poland promptly responded by offering financial support to towns which lost EU funding.
Homophobic incumbent president Andrzej Duda was reelected earlier this year to a second term in office. The 48-year-old Polish lawyer and politician campaigned on a “Family Card” of proposals that included outlawing marriage equality and preventing child adoption by LGBTQ+ families.
Beaune made it clear that he would travel to Poland not solely as a gay man but as a minister of all people opposing bigotry and intolerance.
“I wouldn’t want people to say I am fighting against 'LGBT-free' zones because I am gay,” said Beaune. “However, as European affairs minister, I have an additional responsibility. I must fight for tolerance.”
Prior to his new position as the minister of European affairs, the 39-year-old Beaune served as Macron’s Europeans adviser in the France’s economy ministry, and had been a key member of the president’s administration and campaigns. He made clear that he will have the right frame of mind when confronting injustice.
“There’s a European syndrome of benevolent culpability, as if we had to be in a sort of permanent compromise,” Beaune told the Irish Times. “It’s in our DNA as Europeans, but it’s also in our European DNA not to be ashamed of defending our values, our rules and our interests.”